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Initializing Forms with Data

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Default field values

A form designed with all the form fields blank (empty with no values) in the Form Designer, will load  with no default field values. There are several ways to populate your form with default values to assist the user in filling in your form.

In order of precedence, as the form loads (test/use) form fields are potentially populated with default values:

  1. Default values entered when the form was created in the Form Designer
  2. Values from an XML document(s) sent in the Post request for the form or OnInit.
  3. URL parameters appended to the form URL via the frevvo _data URL parameter
  4. Values retrieved as the form loads from any Document URIs
  5. Default values set via Business Rules as the form loads and during use. See Setting default values in rules and using REST Services in Rules for further details.


 Click here for a quick refresher about adding URL parameters

If you are appending parameters to a URL, use a ? for separating the form/workflow URL from the parameters, and use the & to separate parameters from each other. For example, let's say you want to append the Pacific timezone parameter to the share URL of your form/workflow.

Here is an example using the Link(Email/Web page) URL for a workflow:

Add ?_formTz=America/Los_Angeles to the URL. Use the ? since there are no existing parameters appended.

Here is an example using the Raw Workflow URL for the same workflow:

Add &_formTz=America/Los_Angeles after the last existing parameter. Use the & since you are separating parameters from each other.

Form fields can be initialized directly from the form's HTTP URL. You can do this by using the special (reserved) URL parameter called _data. Below is an example of a form initialized via _data. The syntax for _data is based on Rison. This form was initialized by appending the following to the URL from the form's Share Email/Web Page form link.

?_data=(EMail2787:'',Name:'Joe',Desc:'Please send details',Q:'20')

While not mandatory in all cases it is highly recommended that you enclose the values in single quotes. Thus Name:Joe should be added to the URL as Name:'Joe'. Also, certain characters may need to be URL encoded. See quoting values below for details. The only supported format for dates is the XSD schema date format; you must use YYYY-MM-DD.

The form fields are addressed in the _data parameter by their Name property if the control was added from the palette and by the XSD element name if the control was added from data sources. In the example above the form has 4 controls. The control labeled Email Address has the name EMail2787. The controls labeled Full Name has the name 'Name'. Description is named Desc and Quantity is named Q. See the Form Designer below with the Quantity control selected and you can see that its name in the Properties Settings is 'Q'.

Here are some examples:

  • ?_data=(EMail2787:'') sets the value of the control named EMail2787 to
  • ?_data=(A:'good',B:'bad') sets the controls named A and B to good and bad respectively

If you append the _data parameters to the form/workflow raw link or if you are using the Embedded form (script) to share your form the "?" does not work. Use the "&" character instead of the "?" to append the _data parameters.

URL Template Variables

One common use for _data is in the Form Action Post and the Go to Url, and in the Doc Action Post. You can use Templatized Strings to set the Url parameter values dynamically from the form field values. One example: imagine your form contains a field named 'custName'. &_data=(fname:'{custName}') sets the value of fname to the value in the form field named custName. The value in the form field custName is replaced when this _data is interpreted. If the post is to a  form Url and that next form has a field named 'fname' that field will automatically be initialized to the value of 'custName'.

Quoting values

Values such as 02 are converted to numbers and would actually become a 2 rather than 02. If your form does require a 02 rather than a 2 you can quote the value to prevent this conversion. Thus &_data=(customerId:'02') would set the value of the control named customerId to 02. Whereas if you used &_data=(customerId:02) then the value in customerId would be set to 2.

We highly recommend quoting all values, and it is even more important when using templates because you may not have control over the values users enter into your fields. Thus &_data=(customerId:'{Id}') is preferred over &_data=(customerId:{Id}).

If you are using _data to pass values entered into form 1 to initialize fields in form 2 AND the fields in form 1 are not required (meaning when the form is submitted the fields may not contain values), you must quote the templates. For example, if Id is not a required field then this &_data=(customerId:{Id}) will fail when the field has no value. To prevent this failure always use quotes.

Certain characters such as % need to be URL encoded. The website describes in detail the reason certain characters must be encoded when used in URLs. And it also contains a tool that lets you enter your string and converts it to a properly encoded string. For example if your value is '% complete' this must be written as '%25 complete'.

The single and double quote characters themselves must be escaped with the frevvo escape character '!'. For example, the string 'Nancy's Horse' must be written as 'Nancy!'s Horse'. If the '!' is missing from the string the apostrophe will be mistaken as the end-of-string character.

Repeat Controls

Initializing repeats requires special syntax. :!(<value1>,<value2>,etc..!). In the current release Url Templates, variables are not supported for repeats.

  • &_data=(A:!(one,two!)) expects to find two controls named A (a repeat) and sets them to one and two.

If _data contains more instances of the repeating item than on the form by default, then it will create new items as the form is loading, as if the user had clicked the "+" button.

This membership list form contains a single default empty member item. The controls First Name and Last Name are named fn and ln respectively.

Appending _data=(fn:!(Joe,Liz!),ln:!(Caprio,Smith!) to the form's share URL will cause the form to automatically add a 2nd repeating member and to initialize the first and last names for both members. This form also contains a templatized label in the section control. Notice how the templates are also replaced with the _data values when the form loads.

Date/Time Controls

When you initialize controls with Date or Time values, they will always display the exact value passed. However, the Date/Time control is time zone dependent, and will behave differently depending on how the time zone is provided:

  • If the time zone is provided in the Date/Time value, the value will be converted to the timezone of the browser and displayed in the form accordingly. The time for the Date/Time control is proceeded by a capital "T" (Time Zone) and followed by a "Z" (UTC timezone,) such as '2021-08-20T11:13:00Z'.
  • If the time zone is provided in the URL using the _formTz parameter, the Date/Time value will be converted to and displayed in the time zone specified in the parameter. This will also override the browser time zone.
  • If the time zone is not provided using either method, you will see a parsing error such as "Error: The most likely reason in a syntax error in _data." This applies to Date/Time controls only.

Successful initialization cannot be guaranteed if the time zone for a Date/Time control is not provided (either in the XML document or in the _formTz URL Parameter). This does not apply if your form only has Date and/or Time controls.

Here is an example of a URL that initializes a date only, time only, and date/time control. Notice that the Date/Time value does not have a 'Z' or another timezone indicator, but the appended &_formTz parameter supplies the timezone, America/New York.,OrderTime:'11:13',OrderDateAndTime:'2021-08-20T11:13:00')&_formTz=America/New_York

The local time will be converted to and saved in a valid UTC format for the time portion of the date/time control in the submission XML document. You may see the time in UTC format with a trailing "Z" (UTC) time or the time value plus or minus the UTC offset. See Initializing Forms with XML Documents and Viewing XML Documents for further information.

Checkbox Controls

Selecting multiple checkbox options is not supported via _data. Also when using Url templates only the 1st item from the named template will be used.

Unbound Controls

Variables passed into your form via _data need not be bound to actual form fields. Since _data is used as a way to initialize form fields why would you want to do this?

One place this is very useful is in business rules. See the section on templatized URls in business rules for more details. However anywhere that you can use templates in your form: labels, help, hint; display message, etc... the value can either come from the value in an actual form field or from _data values that are not in any way bound to the name of a control.


The onInit feature allows you to populate your embedded frevvo form with the data from your own HTML form. So if you want to pass some data from your web page to the frevvo form embedded into that same web page, you will use onInit. onInit function will execute when the frevvo form loads.

The onSubmit function allows you to copy the data from the frevvo form (when that frevvo form is submitted) into your HTML form. Then you can use your own JavaScript on your HTML page to process that data (for example save it somewhere else at your own convenience and time, etc.)

The embedding page and frevvo must be in the same domain/origin. Typically this means the same URI scheme, host, and port.

The value of onInit must be an in-scope javascript function. This onInit javascript function will be called before the form is instantiated. For example &onInit=getData will cause frevvo to call the getData() javascript function. The onSubmit function will be called after the submit button is clicked.

Here is a sample HTML page an embedded frevvo script tag and an onInit javascript function. The frevvo script tag copied was from the Share dialog and the &onInit Url parameter was appended. Each XML document is placed inside a container element (input, textarea, or any other element such as a div) and assigned an XML id. In this example there is a single XML document placed inside a <textarea> tag.

<!DOCTYPE html   
  PUBLIC "-//W3C//DTD XHTML 1.1//EN" ""> 
<html xmlns="">  
                <script language="JavaScript" type="text/javascript">    
                                Called before the form is rendered in the iframe     
                                Return - docs - [{       
                                                xml: *      
                        function getData(){     
                                alert('onInit called');     
                                var textarea = document.getElementById('form');     
                                return [{      
                                        xml: textarea.value     
                                Called after the form is submitted     
                                        docs - [{       
                                                        name: *,        
                                                        namespace: *       
                                                        xml: *      
                        function onSubmit(docs){     
                                alert('onSubmit called');     
                                var textarea = document.getElementById('form');     
                                if( textarea )      
                                        textarea.value = docs[0].xml;    
         <textarea id="form" name="doc1" rows="4" cols="100">   
             <ns:form xmlns:ns="" name="Order">
               <Item> <Color>Blue</Color> 
               <Item> <Color>Red</Color> 
               <Item> <Color>Green</Color> 
       <script xmlns= 
        src="http://localhost:8082/frevvo/web/tn/ formtype/_07IOYMUdEeCuRePmBeMwTQ/embed?container=true&resize=true&onInit=getData" type="text/javascript" language="Javascript">      

Things to note:

  1. The Url parameter &onInit=getData used matches exactly the name of a javascript method in the html page also named getData(). 
  2. The xml data is also embedded in the html page in the <textarea> tag.
  3. The <ns:form> content came directly from a prior form submission and was copied out of the frevvo submission repository's Documents tab.

This is how the form looks when initialized via the onInit method. The particular form used in this sample has a repeat control. By default, this form has a single repeating item. When frevvo initializes the form with repeating data returned from the getData() method it auto creates the additional items. This form also contained an Item Added Rule which is why there is also a value in the Quantity field.

Post and XML Documents

If form A and form B both contain the same data source, and the Form Action in form A is set to ''Post'' to the form Url of form B, then form B's fields from schema will be initialized with the values entered into form 1.

This occurs because the Post request to the Form Server contains the XML document(s) from form A. If one data source was added from XSD schema to form A. Then it will contain two documents. The first is the form's from-scratch document containing elements for all controls added from the palette. The second is the schema document.

Form B's from schema document is in the same namespace as form A's since we added the same XSD data source to both. So the values entered into form A's fields will be used as an initial instance document to initialize form B's fields. Refer to the Form Action documentation for the details about posting data between forms using Form Action wizards.

See default field values to understand the precedence that XML documents sent in the Post request to form B take over the other possible methods of defaulting form field values.

See Initializing Forms with XML Documents for more information.